Most of the 11 presentations during Sunday’s “brainsnack” seminar revolved around creating revenue. Alexandre Nilo Fonseca focused on educating an audience — sometimes one that’s never before read a newspaper.

Fonseca, head of marketing for Controlinveste, explained the concept of MediaLab, a facility that lets young readers participate in journalism by using new technologies.

MediaLab is a relevant project for the 21st century because it studies the ways in which children and young adults access information, which Fonseca said has changed dramatically in the past 10 years.

The project doesn’t guarantee a difference can be made or that students will be able to tell the difference between a well-researched article by a trained journalist and an article simply found on the Internet, Fonseca said. But it does get people thinking about writing and reporting in newspapers — outlets to which they might not otherwise pay any attention. 

MediaLab has two locations in Europe. Combined, they receive visits from about 50,000 Portuguese students a year. A staff of 12 helps run the MediaLab, its Web site, and Facebook page.

The project provides three hands-on workshops for children between the ages of 10 and 18, families, journalist trainees, and seniors. MediaLab also works with local universities, which send students there to complete behavioural studies.

“This creates a unique opportunity for newspapers to get involved with the education community,” he said. 

Trends so far have found that males tend to gravitate toward sports stories and females gravitate towards more social stories.

The project has received accreditation and awards, Fonseca said: “It’s an exciting and memorable experience. In the end, all of the kids want to become journalists.”